an online event

The Tree

of Life

Saturday, September 19  |  7:30MST

O frondens virga 

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)


  • Abbess, artist, author, composer, Catholic mystic, poet, composer, theologian, all-around polymath,

  • Hildegard began seeing visions at age three and later collected them into a book called Scivias, a book which took more than 10 years to write. 

  • Credited as being a founder of Natural Science in Germany, lover of nature

  • Also a dramatist; Hildegard wrote the first non-Liturgical musical drama called the Ordo Virtutum, and one of the most prolific composers in the Middle Ages who also wrote the poetry for her music which was more expressive than other chants from the time.

  • Her music was collected into a cycle called the Symphoniae armoniae celestium revelationum.

  • Bingen had a focus on the feminine and femininity, present in this antiphon highlighting the nobility of Mary. 

Wir danken dir 

Pierre de la Rue (1452-1518)

  • Composer for the Hapsburg-Burgundian courts, de la Rue was one of the most famous and copied-out composers in the same era as other Renaissance figures such as Josquin des Prez and Heinrich Isaac.

  • Known for his extensive use of canon as a pervasive force for his polyphonic compositions.

  • Wir danken dir is a more simple German-texted setting of Psalm 75.


Agimus tibi gratias

Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594)


  • Prolific composer, cosmopolitan in languages and genres, sacred and secular.

  • Published in Magnum Opus Musicum posthumously by his sons, a collection of more than 500 motets for 3-12 voices.

  • Helios recently performed the 21-movement Lagrime di San Pietro.

Damos gracias a ti, dios

Francesco de la Torre (ca.1460-ca.1504)


  • Spanish composer active mainly in Naples.

  • Not a great deal of compositional output surviving for de la Torre: one instrumental dance, a funeral piece, a complete setting of the Office of the Dead, and ten villancicos.

  • Villancicos were more common along the Iberian Peninsula and in Latin America in the 15th and 16th centuries and would become associated with Christmas texts.


O quam gloriosum est regnum 

Thomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)


  • One of the most important Spanish composers of the Renaissance

  • O quam gloriosum is from Victoria’s time in Rome and is an example of a Magnificat antiphon, a piece of music to be performed before the Magnificat during Vespers.

  • Celebrating all the saints, rejoicing for their savior, this piece seems to drive forward toward the section of text describing their robes, clad in white before the motet closes with the saints following The Lamb wherever he goes. 

  • First published in 1572, this piece is the first in a collection of motets for 3-8 voices.

If Ye Love Me 

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)

  • English composer under the Tudor Dynasty serving Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.

  • Composed during the Religious upheaval of the English Reformation and the back and forth struggle between The Church of England and Catholicism. 

  • If Ye Love Me is an example of an anthem for the Church of England.

  • Rather than set music with long, seemingly endless flowing lines, music the Church of England is more declamatory, one note per syllable typically. 


O How Amiable are thy dwellings 

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)


  • English composer in the era following the upheaval of the Tudor Dynasty.

  • Active as an organist and composer, Weelkes wrote expressive English madrigals with dramatic chromaticism and unique rhythms.

  • Wrote more music for the Anglican church than any of his contemporaries, focusing especially music for evensong


Loquebantur variis linguis

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)

  • This piece shows the Catholic side of Tallis’s compositional output.

  • As established by earlier composers such as John Taverner and John Shepperd, this piece is built around a single chant melody carried out in the Tenor voice while the other voices weave a dense web of polyphony around it. 

  • This music also contains brief moments of extreme dissonance as the voices move around one another, especially at the conclusion with the frenzied “alleluia.”

  • Telling the story of the Holy Spirit descending onto the apostles who began speaking in different tongues, the polyphonic collisions of consonance and dissonance seem wholly appropriate. 


Ego flos campi 

Jacob Clemens non papa (1510-1555)


  • Known for his work in Dutch genre called Souterliedkens, metrical settings of Psalm settings.

  • Full of various Marian symbols, including numerology and text treatment, this piece is an example of the Marian devotion prominent in the late-Medieval.

  • Breaking up the dense polyphony is a declamatory section presented three times amongst different voice combinations bringing attention to a portion of the text, “sicut lilium inter spinas,” alluding to the Virgin Mary as a rose among the thorns.


O blooming branch,
you stand upright in your nobility,
as breaks the dawn on high:
Rejoice now and be glad,
and deign to free us, frail and weakened,
from the wicked habits of our age;
stretch forth your hand
to lift us up aright.

We thank you, O Lamb of God,
Who died upon the Tree;
Give us, O Lord, thy holy peace.
through thy wounds and agony.

We give thee thanks,
Almighty God and King,
for all thy benefits,
who livest and reignest
forever and ever. Amen.

We thank you, God and the Virgin without blemish
because in our time Spain has reclaimed her throne.

The Goths forgot to keep your laws and perished,
our great king, Ferdinand has won what they lost

Blessed be God only by his great marvelousness
Without us deserving it Spain has reclaimed her throne.

O how glorious is the Kingdom
in which with Christ
rejoice all the saints.
Dressed in robes of white
they follow the Lamb
wherever he goes.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may 'bide with you forever;
E'en the spirit of truth.

O how amiable are thy dwellings, thou Lord of hosts! 
My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. O Lord God of hosts: blessed is the man that putteth his trust in thee.

The Apostles spoke in many languages

of the great works of God,
as the Holy Spirit gave them the gift of speech, alleluia.

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

I am the flower of the field and
the lily of the valley.
As the lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters.
The fountain of the gardens
the well of the living waters
which flow strongly from Libanus.




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© 2016 by Helios. Photography by Leland Gebhardt.